Monday, August 31, 2009

Fan Expo Canada 2009

I got back from Toronto last night after a very hectic few days in Toronto at Fan Expo Canada 2009. Here's a rundown of some of the highs and lows for me.

- Met Caanan, Andy Belanger, and some of the guys from Transmission X in person. Great bunch of guys. The Webcomics 101 panel was lots of fun (and I'm happy to say that no mice were eaten). Though by the end of the con I think they'd had enough of me dropping by. :) By the end of the weekend I had sketches from both Caanan and Andy.

- Got to meet Darwyn Cooke briefly, he was on the top of my list for artists I wanted to see. I was tempted to get a full sketch from him as the ones he was doing were amazing but unfortunately it would have broke my budget (not that they were that much but I placed myself on a fairly tight budget). He was kind enough to sign my sketch book with a quick Green Lantern doodle instead.

- Friday was mostly just trying to figure things out and waiting with my brother in line for autographs or autograph/photo tickets.

- Got to meet Bruce Campbell for an autograph and photo. He was everything I expected and more, he was quite the character playing around during the photo shoot. I ended up looking like a dork but my brother's photo came out awesome! It was definitely the highlight of my weekend.

- Photo with Lou Ferrigno, some people were saying he wasn't as big (muscle-wise) as they were expecting but the guy is still ripped. And he towers over my brother and I in the photo (though that isn't too hard, we come from a very short family).

- Accidentally ripped off J.Bone of $25 when purchasing an awesome sketch of the Hulk. Stupid mistake on my part and I still feel guilty about it but he seemed cool with it... Or he just wanted to get rid of me, who knows. :)

- Went to the Bachalo versus Maleev sketching duel where they both did Dr Doom "sketches". Both were awesome but I think I preferred Maleev's. It was really entertaining as both were lots of fun.

- Saw Dale Keown (a favourite artist of mine that I didn't think was coming) sketching. His sketches were unbelievable with so much detail being put into each one. I was tempted to get one but opted to ask him to just sign my sketch book (I know, just getting a page autographed may seem like a weird thing to get done but oh well). I also got to tell him that I thought Darkness/Pitt #1 was great.

- Photo with Leonard Nimoy. He was friendly despite it being a very busy and long weekend. The picture came out really nice too.

- Sienkiewicz versus Manapul sketching duel. This duel was also lots of fun. Both had good interaction with the crowd. We were kinda wondering about Sienkiewicz as he seemed to be talking a lot and not drawing, yet he was done his Hellboy sketch (which they both decided to draw) in no time. Even Manapul (who was spending more time drawing, not that he wasn't also talking) seemed surprised that he was done in such a short time. Both artists were done quickly and did Joker sketches next (Sienkiewicz deciding to do a two pager with the Joker's lower jaw on a second page so you could slide the pages together to make him laugh). Then they decided to do a third sketch with Manapul drawing the Flash and Sienkiewicz doing Elektra. All of the work was great. I really wish that I could have won at least one in the draws but oh well.

- Sunday was mostly doing a last pass through the floor, picking up a sketch or two, and other more relaxed stuff as it wasn't so busy, and saying good bye to the friends I met.

- While waiting for my plane I ended up sitting in the lounge area next to Avery Brooks and seeing Dan Didio (at least it looked a heck of a lot like him and he had a DC Comics bag) waiting while their plane was delayed. I didn't bother either of them but one guy decided to take some photos of Avery while hiding behind a pillar.

- The place was nuts. I heard they ended up having to lock the doors to the building on Saturday as there were too many people in there at once. I can believe it, walking the floor on Saturday was crazy and the lines for Bruce Campbell and Leonard Nimoy were huge. People that have gone in previous years seemed surprised by the crowds.

- When I told people this was my first big con (though some wouldn't consider it that big) they warned me about a couple things, one was the costumes. I knew what to expect so it wasn't a big deal. Some costumes were great, some weren't so great, but if they're having fun then that's all that matters. I would suggest some should re-consider their costumes though, walking around the floor inside a huge cardboard box can be really uncomfortable for you and the people you are constantly hitting/blocking with your outfit. Yes, there were the women in the more revealing costumes (body paint in some cases) getting swarmed for photos and to each their own I suppose. I did find it funny when some young female anime/manga fans dressed up as some sort of furry animals decided to try to mock the Bruce Campbell fans in the photo line holding mock chainsaws and other weapons.

- The organization seemed to leave something to be desired. People had no clue where to go and the volunteers we asked were often more clueless than us. People with non-VIP passes were being told to wait in the VIP line only to be sent to the back of the other line an hour later while VIP pass holders were being told the wrong way to go. And the autograph/photo ticket process for Nimoy and Campbell was throwing a lot of people off, especially for people who ended up having to wait in the autograph line for an hour to buy a photo ticket. I could go on into other stuff but in the end, it was confusing as all heck for a newbie like me (and many veterans from what I understand).

- One thing I learned, be friendly to those around you. Friends I met while waiting in line for one thing (like the Bruce Campbell photo) ended up helping us later in getting his autograph (which they had some sort of ticket, then numbered ticket, then sticky noted numbered ticket, process to it that we only knew about it through a new found friend, I like to think we paid him back by holding his place in line if he needed to leave for food or whatever else).

Honestly, so much happened over the last three days that I'll probably be posting stuff I forgot for the next little while. It was a great time.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Weekly Comic Reviews for August 26th, 2009

I'll try to make this quick, I still have a lot of packing and some laundry (yes, I said laundry) to do and I have to be up really early for my flight tomorrow. Oh yeah, did I mention I was going to Fan Expo Canada? Of course I did but I'll mention it again. I'm really looking forward to my first big (relatively speaking) convention.

Darkness/Pitt #1 -- It's been a long time coming but it finally started. I didn't really get into the Darkness but I'm a fan of Dale Keown and Pitt. The set up is a pretty simple one that I won't get into. Maybe there's more to the story than what we got but there's a page or two of dialogue that's a basic "here's what's happening, let's get moving". So far, it's no in depth story telling. It's "let's just get these characters together and get on with it." And I'm okay with that. And the art is beautiful. I kinda wished it was larger than a regular comic because some pages Dale just puts so much into. The character chemistry was interesting as well. No doubt, I couldn't wait for issue 1 and now I can't wait for issue 2.

The Incredible Hulk #601 -- Pak is back writing the Incredible Hulk (or should it be "Banner and Son") so I'm back reading a Hulk book. We have Banner showing off his smarts in several areas, Amadeus makes an interesting observation about Bruce, we even have an amazing link to Tales to Astonish #60/61. Solid art, good story, told well. I'm happy. I guess the only negative for me is the whole "8 smartest people" thing, I'm getting rather tired of that.

Son of Hulk #14 -- I had been enjoying this series since Jenkins took over but this issue was closer to being "just okay" for me. I think the further it goes from the characters I've known for a while (Silver Surfer/Galactus being the main ones) the more I find myself losing interest. It's not a bad book, just not a must read in my mind. I just don't find the new characters developing in my mind and we're having more and more characters thrown at us on this planet they're now on. I'm still curious to see where it's going but that curiosity may not last too much longer.

Runaways #13 -- I really liked Immonen's first issue (or two) but I think it's been sliding for me since then. This issue continued that slide. In terms of writing, I'm just not into the story, the dialogue and the flow seem weird and off throughout, and the art just isn't doing it for me. The purplish pages where everyone is darkened out, the lack of backgrounds throughout with no real establishing shots, it's just not working for me. Honestly, when I finished this book my first thought was "Okay, one more issue to go for this storyline and then that's it for me." Then I read that it seems the book will be going on hiatus for a while. So maybe I'll wait and see what happens there.

Well, off to do some ironing and finish packing. I don't think I'll get the opportunity to be around (here or on twitter) during the expo so I'll have to report in next week.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More Miscellaneous Comic Ramblings (from Twitter)

Being the lazy person I am (and probably pretty annoying as well) I figured I'd write up a quick set of ramblings about stuff I've seen on Twitter recently. Sorry if I don't give credit to the people who passed along the info to me, I'll try to give credit where I can though.

First up, Ernesto Priego has a lot to say about this article about the internet being good or bad for high end artists. Now I don't have the business savvy to really say how things are going to turn out for comic artists/companies. I think there's no doubt the internet is changing things and companies may find themselves falling behind and the issues are plenty. But in terms of web comics (I'm using this term for comics generated for the web and not print comics scanned in) I do have to wonder where things are going.

Now I'm going off topic from the original article so bare with me if you will. For people looking to make a living from comics jumping into the web comic arena can be seen as a logical step. To get your work out there you simply have to do it and post it, there are plenty of sites you can post to or you can build your own site. This probably won't get you discovered though and this is where you have to do the self promotion thing. But in the end, you have to look at making money. Now I've never tried but my understanding is that advertising revenue just won't do it and you have to look elsewhere. Selling print versions or merchandise seem to be the top choices in my mind. But then I start to wonder, what is your primary product? Is it the webcomic and are the for sale items a way for people to support your comic? Or are those sale items the real product and your webcomic is just a way to hook them? Is your webcomic really just a promotional tool for your merchandise? And does it matter?

Getting back to the article, in the end I don't really see the internet as good or bad for all artists necessarily. It will be good for those who find ways to take advantage of it and bad for those who don't. But that's probably just me.

My second rambling comes from this post on the term "graphic novel". I know it's not a new discussion but it's still ongoing. Yes, I've used the term and I generally feel bad doing so. I don't like it and yes, I often get odd looks from people (especially non-comic people who instantly think it's a novel with lots of sex and violence, and then seem to get more weirded out when they find out it's a comic I'm reading). The problem for me is that no other term really gets the point across. I know, it's a comic and most of what I call "graphic novels" were originally a comic series collected in one volume but if I say I'm reading a comic called "Watchmen" people seem to assume I'm collecting a series of books. But now that I think of it, perhaps that's probably the way to go because non-comic people seem to be confused no matter which way I go. Okay, I've decided, they're all comics.

Lastly, Nancy Lorenz posting this "25 Essential Expressions Challenge" to fill out when designing a character (good for new characters or artists taking over a book). This seems like a great idea. I'm hoping to see some examples with a "pouty" Batman or a drunk Superman. And what to do with fully masked characters like Spidey or Iron Man? :P

Friday, August 21, 2009

No reviews yet

I haven't been able to get to my local comic shop this week so no reviews yet. Though, I'm not sure I'll have any even when I do get out there as I don't think I had any books come out this week.

I did read the latest volume of Invincible (which ends prior to the crossover and Conquest stories). I must admit that it wasn't my favourite volume of the series. It seemed like too many new storylines and characters were thrown in there pushing aside the main storylines that I felt needed to be progressed. I'm definitely expecting more out of the next volume, the trouble is avoiding the spoilers while waiting until it comes out (currently listed for March I believe but I'm expecting it to be pushed back like the last few were).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weekly Comic Reviews for August 12th, 2009

None of my regular books came out this week but since I didn't want to go home empty handed I picked up the new Ultimate Avengers or whatever it's called. I won't do a full review but it's a step up from where it was (both in writing and art in my mind). I have to admit, I'm tempted but I won't be adding it to my pull list. Though I may consider the TPB if I continue to hear good things about it. I also have the latest Walking Dead and Fables TPBs to read.

In other comic review news, I have been getting a few recommendations for webcomics I might be interested in so I may as well post about the ones I've enjoyed. To be honest, I haven't had a chance to look through too many of them (why do vacations always seem so busy, I guess I just had too much stuff piled up waiting for my time) but two I wanted to mention are Melody and Smash.

I wasn't sold on Melody during the competition stage but reading it now that it's done it is a very well done story. I was expecting something much darker out of it but was pleasantly surprised as the events unfolded.

Smash is simply a fun comic with a good balance of action, humour, and a nice level of seriousness to it. The art has a lot of character and the action scenes are really fun. I'm looking forward to seeing how they end season 1.

Hopefully by next week's reviews I'll have had a chance to look over some more of the suggestions I've received.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Weekly Comic Reviews for August 5th, 2009

Only one book this week...

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 #27 -- I've said it before, I'm a fan of Whedon, I'm a fan of Buffy, and I really want to be a fan of this series. I still am for the most part, it is Buffy after all, but my enjoyment is wavering. I had some minor complaints about last issue and this one didn't seem any better really. I didn't really find the character dialogue and interaction as interesting as what I'm used to from Buffy and it just seemed to be a lot of rambling dialogue. Other than some interaction between Oz and Willow, all the dialogue just seemed like it could have come from anyone and it didn't really seem to matter. The first scene with Twilight seems confusing as in one panel Warren seems to speak as though Twilight is no longer in the room yet he's shown to be 3 feet away in the next panel. The overall story I'm still into, Twilight seems interesting and magic being Buffy et al's achilles heal is kinda cool, but the execution seems to leave quite a bit to be desired. I'm hoping the next couple issues of this storyline get better but I'm not holding my breath. I just hope it gets back on track with the next storyline.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"Constructive" Criticism

I'm often torn about offering up what I would consider constructive criticism or critiques for webcomic creators or artists. The first issues I have revolve around me. First off I realize my "criticisms" are only really personal opinions of what may or may not have worked for me. And on top of that, I (and many others I know) can come off rather preachy or overly negative, especially when offering up criticisms. And let's face it, I don't always know what I'm talking about (I'd say it's about 50/50).

Beyond that, I know a lot of creators really don't want to hear the negatives, especially from a "nobody" like me. What helps in this case is going back and looking at how the creators dealt with what I consider fair criticisms in the past. If they are met with "Well let's see you do better?" or "Your art sucks too!" or some other attack from the creator I know to just walk away, because obviously this is the so far beyond me that I can't appreciate the creators' talents and in fact, it's so good that it will never get any better. It's especially annoying though when these people ask for criticism saying they want to improve and then reacting negatively to it (ie. their call for criticism was really just a call for more people to check out their work and pat them on the back). Quick tip, if you're going so far as to ask for a critique of your work actually take the time to understand the negatives, digest them, and take a minute to really think about whether they apply or not. Never dismiss them outright.

So in the end, I hold my tongue. The odd time, if I've gotten to know the creator a bit or they've asked for some criticisms I may offer up a "maybe you could pull out every now and then to set the scene" or "you may want to avoid having the letter bubbles cover up your characters" or "didn't that guy have a beard on the last page?" but that's about it. That's probably for the best though, I haven't gotten into an internet rumble in quite some time and I like having my own little part of the web where nobody criticizes me or says anything negative. ;)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Comic Book Solicits

I'm noticing that comic book solicits, especially those from the "big two" companies, just aren't doing it for me. I know they have to go out there to try and get people's attention but I just keep seeing "The universe will never be the same after the shocking events of this issue" and I just find it hard to care. I figure that either the events will not be that shocking (or universe altering), or things will only last until the next "shocking event" 6 months down the road (and sometimes that next "shocking event" will just be the writer forgetting or ignoring the previous "shocking events"), or that the "shocking event" means they'll be taking a book/character/universe I like and changing it into something I won't. Though it's possible they'll change things to a positive but I might as well wait and see (reading spoilers online) to see, and picking up the TPBs if I eventually change my mind.

I guess I'm just getting too pessimistic about things, which is probably why I'm staying away from a lot of the monthlies and maybe picking them up in TPB if I hear good things after the fact. But that's just me, I know a lot of the books I don't care for and "shocking events" are selling really well.